Thinking about getting some new rubber for the winter? Maybe we can help. We’ve created a water temperature wetsuit guide and rounded up some of the top wetsuits so you can find the best winter wetsuit for your needs.
Now bear in mind that one man’s winter temperatures can be another man’s summer temperatures. But for those of us living and surfing in Southern California or similar climates, we tend to experience temps from about the low 50s to low 60s in the winter with an average winter temperature being roughly in the 55-57 degrees Fahrenheit range.
Be sure to take into consideration your preference for warmth and tolerance to the cold. It may very well be different than your friend who’s telling you he wears a 3/2 year-round and is fine. Also, you should keep in mind that a quality 3/2 wetsuit can be warmer than a budget 4/3.
It seems the older I get the less tolerant to the cold I become. So these days I tend to wear a spring suit longer than the average surfer when the summer is approaching (up to low 70s) and I’m quicker to grab for my booties in the winter (at or below 60 °F these days, used to be 58 °F).
The best winter wetsuits are going to cost you anywhere from about $200 to $500 and some change. You can typically pick up last years model for a bit less if you’re looking to save some money.
Here is a water temperature table with some comments based on my preference that can help put things into perspective.
Water Temperature Wetsuit Guide
|Temp. (°F)||Wetsuit Thickness||Wetsuit Type||Comments|
|>73°||None – 2 mm||Nothing, Rashguard, Wetsuit Top||Even in warm water I almost always wear a rash guard to prevent armpit and nipple rash.|
|66°- 73°||1 mm – 2/1 mm||Rashguard, Wetsuit Top, Spring Suit||I typically use a wetsuit top or repurposed 3/2 depending on the temp in this range|
|64°- 68°||2 mm – 3/2 mm||Wetsuit Top, Various Spring Suits||I often repurpose my old 3/2’s by cutting off the arms and/or the legs to make a spring suit.|
|58°- 63°||3/2 mm – 4/3 mm||Full Suit + Booties (if under 60)||Any 3/2 is pretty ideal for this range. A tapped and sealed suit is a nice option.|
|52°- 58°||4/3 mm||Full Suit + Booties (hood optional)||A top of the line 3/2 mm can work. A hood would be nice on the lower end of the spectrum.|
|43°- 52°||4/3 mm – 5/4 mm||Full Suit + Boots + Gloves + Hood||You can get by in a top of line 4/3 which you’d most likely get more use out of too.|
Best Winter Wetsuits 2019
3/2 MM WETSUITS
The Matuse Dante is a super buttery and stretchy wetsuit, which makes it very light and comfortable. The Dante is made using a special Geoflex material which is even more flexible than their other Geoprene wetsuits. With the unique Butterfly-collar and the wetsuits extra stretchiness, the Dante is a chest zip that is easier to get into than your typical front entry suit. The suit was designed with people who strongly dislike putting on or taking off wetsuits in mind. I’ve always been a back zip kind of guy and have struggled with chest zips but after a few sessions in the Dante, that is no longer the case. In the water, the limestone based wetsuit feels smooth, warm, and unrestrictive. As with all things Matuse, everything is Ichiban-infused (the best of the best) and done with quality, function, and performance at the forefront of design.
Patagonia is at the forefront of sustainable eco-friendly products. Their new Yulex R2 Full Suit (which is neoprene-free) will not only keep you warm, but they’ll keep your conscious free of guilt for causing less harm to our beloved environment. Okay, maybe it’s not a 3/2 exactly, but close enough and the added millimeters will surely give you a little more warmth and comfort on those colder winter mornings. Patagonia suggests this wetsuit for temperatures in the 55–60° F/13–16° C range.
O’Neill has been making wetsuits since the beginning of wetsuits so you can count on getting a quality product. The Psycho Freak Z.E.N. Zip 3/2 is no exception. It’s one of those 3/2 mm wetsuits that you would definitely be comfortable surfing through a Southern California winter in, which we think makes it worth the higher price point. It’s a very high-quality top of the line suit that is bound to keep you cozy and getting up early, even on the coldest of winter mornings.
Billabong sums it up the best on this one… The Billabong Furnace is their top of the line cold-water wetsuit. It’s suitable for temperatures 52 – 62 F which basically describes your typical Southern Californian winter. The Furnace was designed for warmth and comfort using their most advanced technology and construction. The Drymax furnace lining feature allows for superior drainage which is always nice if you have taken in some cold water during a duck dive or wipe out. Special air pockets within the channels will trap and retain body heat making the Billabong Furnace 3/2 another top pick for your next winter wetsuit.
4/3 MM WETSUITS
Rip Curl is also an original wetsuit-making-gangsta and their Flash Bomb line of suits are touted to be the fastest drying wetsuits in existence. Fast-drying wetsuits are especially nice in the winter when it’s freezing cold and the last thing you want to do is put on a wet wetsuit. Wetsuits have evolved from back zips to chest zips and now the zip free wetsuit with each iteration allowing in less water making the Flash Bomb Zip Free 4/3 one of the best winter wetsuits out there. Without the bulk and constriction of the zipper, zip free wetsuits are the closest you will get to the feeling of not wearing a wetsuit at all. Personally, I can’t bring myself to squeeze into a zip free or chest zip suit. My shoulders don’t like it. But I see them all over the lineup, more so than back zips, so the majority of people seem to be fine with them.
Xcel has been around since the 80s and they have their fair share die-hard fans. I find it ironic that Xcel was founded and created on the North Shore of Hawaii where the water stays relatively warm year round but that certainly didn’t prevent Ed D’Ascoli from making some of the finest wetsuits out there. The Xcel Drylock TDC 4/3 has some really nice and exclusive features that help with keeping water out and making it easier to get into.
There you have it, folks. Hope you found this men’s wetsuit guide to be helpful in your quest to find your perfect wetsuit!
Be sure to check back from time to time as we’ll keep this article updated with the latest and greatest.